By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with https://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-petro-poroshenko-and-the-spanish-toad/
There is an old Spanish fairy tale about a “hurrying toad”. It spent 7 years climbing the high stairs to a house, having a rest after each overcome step. It fell from the last one and started to complain: “Why am I in a hurry every time”?
The descendants of Visigoths and Moors laugh together at the stupidity of this amphibian, which took its extraordinary sluggishness for haste. Meanwhile, the small animal isn’t so stupid as it seems. It is quite possible that before the last step the toad didn’t rest sufficiently. As a result, 7 years of work was for nothing. So the statement of the Spanish toad isn’t as direct as it may seem at first sight. In addition, the fact that it pondered the reasons for its defeat and tried to analyse them to the best of its ability (obviously in order to not repeat a mistake) characterises the Spanish toad as intellectual, even if it is ugly and slippery.
Unlike the mentioned fairytale Pyrenean small animal, Ukrainian politicians and “intellectuals”who try to develop a strategic course for the state never once thought about why every time when they want to do something better, things turns out as always.
I understand that for them their personal interests always prevail over the state’s interests, and that they are ready to sell, buy, and again sell their Motherland, but for a higher price. However, even the racketeers of the 90’s, who didn’t go very far from Pithecanthropus (both in terms of appearance and intelligence level), quickly realised that during their lives it is more favourable to milk a prospering point than to milk protected businesses dry one-two times and then tighten one’s belt. Those who didn’t understand this very quickly found themselves six-feet under. I.e., it must be clear to Ukrainian politicians that “stealing from profits” (as Igor Valeryevich Kolomoisky teaches) is more favourable and safe than from losses. And in a prosperous country the situation is stabler, profits are higher, and thus the income is steadier.
And after all, one can’t say that Ukrainian politicians didn’t worry at all about the prosperity of their country and thus business, which they do at the expense of this country. The vast majority of them, not just “Euro-integrators”, sincerely believed that EU accession will bring prosperity to the country, that NATO will defend it from any threats, and in order to achieve these two treasured objectives it is necessary to just regularly follow the instructions of the US, both directly (through the Embassy) and through affiliated structures (for example, the IMF).
They still aren’t confused by the fact that the more zealously and fervently the recommendations of Washington are implemented, the poorer and more insolvent Ukraine becomes. This is a state that 25 years ago laid claim to the title of “the second France”, which participated in the G7+1 format (besides Ukraine, such a format was used around the world by the West on a regular basis only for negotiations with Russia), but turned into a poor excuse of Haiti, and doesn’t just slip deeper into the abyss, but simply nosedives, rejoicing that “the bottom hasn’t been reached yet”.
Here, for example, is the US, which longly and persistently advised [Ukraine – ed] to “diversify”, but in practice to cut strategic trade and economic ties with Russia. Ukraine moved in this direction in the middle of the 90’s. And the further it traveled along the way of “diversification”, the more strongly the economy collapsed. And lastly, by signing the agreement on association with the EU and severing its last ties with Russia (under the pretext of a war that only Ukraine sees and wages), the final blow was dealt to the economy. It won’t be possible to reanimate it any more.
Kiev acted similarly on the gas front. The almost annual, since 2005, “gas wars” (diversification of the gas supply and the transfer of relations with Moscow in this sphere to “European groundwork” was declared as their purpose) led to a 5- to 6-fold (and at peak even more) rise in the gas price for Kiev, which made Ukrainian industry noncompetitive. Of course, at first several people were able to steal many times more than they initially assumed on the back of the growth of gas prices.
But the oligarchy as a whole in this case suffered huge losses, because at first separate enterprises, and then even whole industries – the competitiveness of which was defined by a rather low price of gas – reduced production and then completely stopped their work. Finally, with the death of the industry, the gas consumption also reduced, so even those who sat on dividends from trade in “blue gold” was suffered losses.
One doesn’t need to be a genius in order to guess that the US, pitting Ukraine against Russia, doesn’t at all think about the prosperity of the Ukrainian state, the people, and the oligarchy, but seeks to solve its own problems at someone else’s expense. In their calculations Kiev plays a role of expendable material. Its main task consists of blocking economic ties with Russia and the EU, where an important (and recently, even critical) role is played by the supply of gas, because until recently 80% of gas transit from Russia to the EU went through Ukraine, so Ukraine was a key link in the implementation of the American plans for holding the Old Continent under its economic and political control. What will thus happen to Ukraine didn’t bother the Americans at all.
That’s why, for example, in 2014, after the return of Crimea to Russia, the US for a few months more strenuously signalled to Moscow that they wouldn’t at all be against Russia capturing all of Ukraine. Washington reasonably believed that in this case nothing else will remain for the European Union except to sever all ties with Moscow.
During the last five years since the putsch the US indifferently observes how the pro-American regime that came to power loses internal stability because of the banal lack of funds for the maintenance of the state. At the same time, the maintenance of Ukraine at the level of “so that things don’t become worse” costs about $10 billion of external financing per year. With $30 billion per year it is possible to create a feeling of full wellbeing and absolute happiness among the population. This is not peanuts, but it is about 1/25th of budget of the Pentagon (not taking into account indirect military expenses). For comparison, for rescuing the financial system of Greece (in order to not allow its exit from the Eurozone) the West in two years found more than €300 billion (about $500 billion).
Taking into account the strategic importance of Ukraine in American geopolitical planning, if its integrity (even not prosperity) was recognised as a boundary condition for a solution, then money would be found without problems. If it’s not found, so it means that the US is satisfied with any option: if it will remain intact – okay, if it will collapse – this also okay. But it must do it itself.
Nevertheless, Kiev continues to pick up any American initiative with enthusiasm. Now Ukraine actively fights against “Nord Stream-2”. Moreover, its confidence in the beneficence of American recommendations and their obligatoriness for implementation reaches such a level that the government officials of Kiev (including the Minister of Foreign Affairs) are publicly surprised by, and indignant at, how Germany dares to continue the construction of “Nord Stream-2” if the US already several times repeated that the project is wrong and must be closed? About what such “national interests” do the Germans murmur? Their national interests are better seen from Washington.
Let’s imagine that the pipe dream of Ukrainian politicians comes true and the construction of “Nord Stream-2” is stopped. We won’t try to find out who will lose however much already invested money from it, and also who will owe how much to who. Politics is a severe thing – investments are often lost and debts are rarely paid back. Great Britain, when it was the empress of the seas, often consciously opted for severe financial losses for decades just in order to strangle a dangerous enemy.
But let’s assess the situation from the point of view of the interests of Ukraine. It would seem that everything is all right — the bypassing gas pipeline hasn’t been completed; there is no alternative to Ukrainian transit. Kiev will earn a further 2-3 (and in the long term, maybe, more) billion per year from transit and at the same time terrorise Russia with constant legal proceedings and demands to revise in its own favour the signed contracts. Here is happiness!
However, everything isn’t so benevolent. As we remember, the US fights against “Nord Stream-2” not for the sake of Ukraine and not because of a love for art, but in order to leave its economic competitors in the EU without cheap gas (with the prospect of the death of the primary export branches of European industry) and also to deprive its geopolitical competitors in Russia and China of the European sales market and source of technologies. I.e., with one blow Washington tries to achieve the simultaneous, critical weakening of their three economic and geopolitical competitors, creating the conditions for their return to the position of the world hegemon. More bang for their buck.
This strategy doesn’t at all assume that Russian gas will go through Ukraine. It assumes that gas won’t get to Europe at all. Unless its American liquefied, and in insufficient quantities and at an ultra-high price. Therefore, it is necessary to stop Ukrainian transit after “Nord Stream-2”. There are three ways of solving this problem.
The first option – hope that Russia will take offence, sulk and, as certain “hyper patriots” advise, will stop delivering gas to Europe through Ukraine. This option would be the cheapest and most effective for the US, but Washington already in the 90’s understood that it won’t have such an option.
The second option – provoke a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Fleeing nationalists will have the time to destroy if not all the gas transit infrastructure, then at least a major part of it. And again, it will be possible to put pressure on Europe, demanding to stop any relations with the “aggressor”. This option also allows to solve the American problem mainly at the expense of the geopolitical opponents and allies of Washington. But as the practice of 2014 and the subsequent years showed, this is also not realistic. Russia avoids the “honour” of solving the Ukrainian problem alone, persistently involving leading EU countries in process. So the provocations of Kiev even assist in the gradual political rapprochement of Moscow and Berlin (and also some other European capitals).
The third option assumes the disintegration of the Ukrainian state into conflicting uluses – the Americans will hint to their leaders that the destruction of the gas transit infrastructure will relieve them of many dangers and will create problems for their neighbour. The average Ukrainian politician will easily understand that if the gas going through their territory to the neighbouring hostile region (controlled by a competing oligarch or alternative gang) is used to heat houses and maintenance the work of industry, then there is a need to blow up the gas pipeline. Well, and for those who won’t understand or will decide to play their own game, there are the snipers of the CIA.
Thus, if “Nord Stream-2” is stopped, Russia and the EU will indeed suffer very serious financial-economic and geopolitical losses. But the definitive realisation of American interests doesn’t assume that after this a Ukrainian state will exist. On the contrary, the more victims and destruction there will be, the longer and deeper the chaos on the territory of Ukraine will be, and the better it will be for the Americans. If this territory will turn into an uninhabitable desert, then for Washington it will be a celebration even more so.
So instead of assenting to Americans and dreaming about the crash of the bypassing streams project, Ukraine should cherish it as the apple of their eye, propel “Nord Stream-2”, and even insist that “Nord Stream 3” and “Nord Stream-4” are built.
In such a case, a Ukraine that is growing poor, needed by nobody, forgotten by all, and missing two thirds of its population will be able to survive in the form of an agrarian single-crop Bantustan. The crash of the streams project brings death and destruction to Ukraine and its population. And no other prospect. But for Americans in this case, it’s “nothing personal, just business”. So it isn’t necessary to hurry to jump onto the last step. The Spanish toad can vouch for it.